Content Skip to content.
San Diego State University

Gate Millennium Scholars Program

Magdalena Rodriguez, Graduate Student, Educational Leadership, Student Affairs Author: Tomas Nieto Magdalena Rodriguez is an accomplished and caring scholar who wishes to solve the inequalities within academia. She is studying to get her Masters in Educational Leadership. This young Mexican-American scholar is from Watsonville, a small town outside of Santa Cruz. Her collegiate graduate career started in high school when she was selected to be a Gates Millennium Scholar. With her funding, she attended University of California, Los Angeles to earn her Bachelor in Political Science and double minored in Chicano and Chicana Studies and Labor and Workplace Studies. Rodriguez’s undergraduate education instilled an understanding of the inequalities within education for ethnic minorities as well as the socioeconomic middle-lower and lower class.

Although being an outstanding scholar she notes the struggles of being in college. While acknowledging her amazing experiences at UCLA, the former-Bruin also presents several examples where her minority identity revealed prejudices within their prestigious walls. Rodriguez notes these instances are not necessarily students’ nor faculty’s fault but rather it is the entire culture and structure of education that needs to be fixed. Thus, through her studies she wishes to be a part of the needed paradigm shift for our schools.

However, she is very optimistic about the future of education. She emphasizes the importance of being educated and especially understanding the obstacles placed before minorities. Rodriguez beautifully states her key points of advice by saying “the biggest thing you can do for yourself is being your own advocate; I know that we try to not stand out but that’s a problem…Because you are special. You are at this institution because somebody believed in you. It is now your responsibility to see it forward.” Her message speaks to the simple fact that we are all here because we are all intelligent. We are responsible to not only make the best of our opportunities but also pave the way for all who follow.

The Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) Program selects 1,000 talented students each year from across the country to receive a good-through-graduation scholarship to use at any college or university of their choice. The goal of the program is to promote academic excellence and to provide an opportunity for outstanding minority students with significant financial need to reach their highest potential by facilitating successful completion of bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees. The GMS Program, established in 1999, was initially funded by a $1 billion grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Over 10,315 Gates Millennium Scholars completed a degree since the program's inception.